Jay Ward is not looking to become a big rock star who is all about “the cult of me.” For him, music is far too important for such shallow goals. “Music, to me, is the easiest way of expressing things that words alone can’t say,” says the 17-year-old singer, songwriter, and guitarist. “When I listen to a really good song or play a song I like, I feel like the world makes sense and I’m seeing it from a new perspective. That’s something I haven’t found anywhere else.”
Jay and his 13-year-old brother Carl make up the Scotts Valley-based acoustic pop-rock duo Fall Forward. The band’s debut six-track EP, Boxes & Strings—recorded at Santa Cruz’s Gadgetbox Studios—was released earlier this year and is now available at Streetlight Records, iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby. From an acoustic rock ode to a teenage drama queen (“Estrogen”), to a funky guitar-and-percussion number about the shifting dynamics of a relationship (“Awkward”), to an acoustic pop love track about missing someone (“Come Back”), the album’s songs are both genuine and insightful. “Oftentimes the songs are about things I have experienced in my life at some point, even if I’m not necessarily going through them at that time,” Jay says. “It’s stuff that I feel I can relate to.” Jay’s not the only one who can relate to the band’s heartfelt lyrics; in addition to its expanding local fan base, roughly half of the duo’s 2,500-plus fans on Facebook are from Mexico, despite the fact that they’ve never performed over the border. “I don’t know how more and more people are getting interested in us down there, but I’m really glad it happened and I think it’s a really cool thing,” says Jay. “It just sort of caught on!”
INFO: For more info about Fall Forward and to purchase a copy of their CD, visit fallforwardmusic.com. The band plays at 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14 at Streetlight Records, 939 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz.